Monday, December 31, 2007

General update, with a guest appearance from the security guys, and my Asshole Neighbour

I was talking to one of the security guys the other day and he was bemoaning that so many of his friends and family go over to Thailand to whore it up on thier holidays. Because it's HARAM! Bitches! there was a pause in the conversation, and than he said "Suburban, we could make one Airline, call it HARAM-Air, we charter flights to Thailand. Except it's Haram to make money on Haram..." It was a pretty funny idea though.

I went home and was telling Stone about the idea, and he suggested maybe it wouldn't be so haram if we had a mobile clinic on the flights and tested for AIDS, and instead of inflight magazines we could have brochures detailing safe sex. I think it would still be haram, but maybe not a bad idea to offer some info, and maybe free condoms in the departures area of the airport. Hmmm...

The baby is sick, not dying or anything Just sick. According to the new Doc it's just your run of the mill bronchitis. Pleeeeassse God, Pleeease, make her better because it just kills me to watch her choking and gaging and struggling to breathe, and coughing all night.

We went to see the pediatrician today, the guy who has been holding the fort since the Scandinavian one left. As much as I try to like this newguy, and as much as I trust his judgement and his excellent credentials, he sort of rubs me the wrong way. I want to point out that I have an IQ of like 150 or so and am totally capable of understanding his super complex Dr. words, even when they have more than three syllables.

I don't mean to be hard on him... The poor guy is working his ass off, and as such doesn't really have time to concern himself with bedside manner. He's just trying to stay on top of his responsibilities. But, goddamn, I miss Dr.Hans. When he told me he was leaving Oman, I cried, because because other than Stone, he was the only person in the entire country who would laugh at my jokes, and liked to talk about cars (or perhaps I cried because I am crazy). Were he not all old and married, I would have asked him to father any future children I might have. Seriously, the english language lacks the words to describe the kind of love I had for our former Pediatrician.

Dr Hans has returned to his native land of Lingon berries and Ikea. I imaging him skiing right now, returning home to a toasty house with a fireplace, full of sleek Scandinavian furniture, Surrounded by his adoring family and loved ones, and enjoying his new job just fine, thank you very much. I wish he would come back, because my needs are more important than his right to have a happy life near his family. Obviously.

Which brings me to my Neighbours... I have resolved the school bus honking issue with the folks across the street, but there is a mysterious guy who lays on his horn for about three minutes every day around 12:00. I have never been able to figure out who it is because I am usually running to grab the screaming baby that woke up thanks to his honking. By the time I get out to the road, he's vanished. I call him... The Shadow...

Today was different. I happened to be in the front yard when the Shadow arrived, and began his customary honking routine. "I'll get you this time Shadow!"I yelled, and was out the front gate so fast that there are burn marks on the front yard tiles. Out of the gate, I look right, and there, across the street and one house down, sits The Shadow!!!!!!!!!!!

The Shadow sits, parked in front of his gate, leaning on the horn, and waiting for the house maid to work her way through the house, out the front door, so she can open the gate for him, so he can park his car inside.

You heard me right.... He is honking his horn, leaning on the thing, from the moment he arrives until the Housemaid starts to open the gate, because he is too lazy to get out of the car, walk through the people gate, and open the car gate himself. A task which would take him less than a minute to complete.

So I run over, and very politely introduce myself. The usual pleasantries are exchanged. The following is a rough translation of what happened next.

Me: Listen, I hate to trouble you, but do you think you could keep the honking to a minimum?
The Shadow: You Live in that house? All the way across the street? (our houses are about 30 m apart, Max)
Me: Yes, just over there. See my daughter tries to have a nap during the day, but your honking wakes her up.
The Shadow: So your house is not well furnished?
Me: Um, we have thick curtains and furniture and stuff... but the car horn is really loud. Maybe you could just honk once? Or your maid could leave the gate ready for you around noon? Or something...?...
The Shadow: Well... (heaves a sigh) I guess I can try to help you.
Me: I'd really appreciate that, Sorry for troubling you. thanks so much.

So we say our goodbyes, and that's that.

Next year I am moving to a better neighbourhood, like Detroit.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Overheard in Muscat, December

Cruel tricks to play on New arrivals, Part 2

Him: Salam Alaykum!
Me: Wa Alaykum Salaaam!
Him: Kef Halish, Kabir?
Me: Kabeer?
Him: Kabir, you know, because I respect you...
Me: Kabear means cow. Have the guys in IT been teaching you Arabic again?
Him: Uh huh.

The security guys have been watching too much ESPN...
Me and a newly arrived female friend are pulling up to the security gates. All four security guys pour out and blockade the road in front of the car. All together the four do "the Mexican wave" like in a football stadium. They have clearly been practicing.

Nasser: Hala! Suburban! We are breakdancers!
Me: Guys, that is awesome!
Nasser: We learn from American football. Superbowl is coming.
Me: Cool, tape Bud Bowl for me.
Nasser and other guards: do the wave again, blow kisses.
Newly arrived Friend: You have an interesting relationship with those guys
Me: You don't know the half of it....

We don't eat the house pets around here.
At a friends house, admiring thier newly acquired pet tortoises...

Us: Neat, they're so big!
Host: They can grow to eighty Kilos.
Bartie, the HouseMaid wanders over for her first look...
Host: Do you like them Bartie?
Bartie: very good. making you too much strong!
Host: (stunned silence....) Hmmm?
Bartie: After making soup and curry not need any injections!
Us: (muffled laughter)
Host: Bartie, these are pets, like the cat! We don't eat the cat, please don't eat the turtles.
Bartie: OK sir. (looking crestfallen)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Travel, Teddy Bears.

We just got back from Amman, Jordan. I love that place. We went for a wedding, and a mini holiday, and so that Stone could have a swim in the dead sea, something he has never done before. A few thoughts about Jordan, as usual in no particular order.

  • Security was tighter than in the past. We took full advantage of the presence of armed guards everywhere and took pictures of the baby being cuddled by tough men wearing sub machine guns. The pictures are hysterical, but have frightened the grandparents.

  • Stone said the driving was reminiscent of being a pin ball. If you have ever driven in Amman, you'll know what I mean. The driving was the same as always, crazy, but friendly. They have built more tunnels, and a gorgeous giant bridge.

  • Three years ago I discovered that the only thing that doesn't float in the dead sea are rental car keys. No such tragedy this time.

  • The Baby hated the dead sea. She screamed like we were killing her as soon as we stuck her toe in. Stone liked the dead sea, but felt it wasn't "floatey" enough. He had the bouyancy of mercury in mind.

  • There was lots of Christmas related excitement everywhere. The Marriott had a giant tree decorated with glazed ginger bread cookies, each of which a member of staff had signed with thier name. It was cute.

  • Having a cute baby in Amman is a little like being the personal assistant to someone very famous. the Baby's cheeks were chapped from all the unsolicited kisses and pinches she received.

  • Upon leaving Amman, I used the toilet in the airport. Having thanked the attendant while leaving the washroom, the elderly lady jumped up and kissed each of my cheeks twice. How awesome is that? And how come I don't' get kisses from the attendants here in Muscat? (says Stone, because there are no attendants in the Seeb bathrooms)

Has anyone been following the Shit-storm that was whipped up about the teacher in Sudan who was jailed for allowing her (Muslim) students to chose Mohammad as the name for thier class teddy bear? There were people in the streets of Sudan protesting and calling for the death penalty. For the teacher.

Amjad blogged about it, as did quite a few other folks, but Amjad's blog got a lot of traffic because it was linked to from the BBC website. A few of us locals commented, but to be honest, I didn't hear a single ringing condemnation regarding actions the Sudanese government from anybody local. In fact, with the exception of myself and Amjad, most of the local commentary was critical of the teacher.

  • Petite For Life said...
    Her ignorance about Islam costed her, God help her.
  • Um Khalid said...
    Stupid from both sides really. -The teacher should know this would provoke anger among Muslims. -And the there Muslims are overreacting.I think something has to be done, but lashes?! - I'm thinking something like teaching her to respect the culture she's living in.

Ladies, That is totally fucking pathetic. I expected better of the Oman blogging community. I sort of thought that at least one other person would speak up, and to be honest, I kind of thought that other Muslim governments would speak up as well, if for no other reason than this sort of stuff is really really bad PR.

But the comments were mostly from elsewhere, (some of them so angry and crazy that the Sudanese government and the Saudi courts look sane by comparison) and poor Amjad got a lot of shit rained down on him, personally. Which is a bit of a shame, since he had the balls to speak out and say what nobody else, Muslim governments included, was willing to say.

Can I just add that I suspect this was whipped up further by the Saudis to draw international attention away from the Qatif rape case. I suspected something similar with the Danish cartoon thing after the stampede during the Haj and or Red Sea Ferry disaster a few years ago. Coincidence? I think not.

More tomorrow. We are still trying to find the prostitutes. Maybe they have all gone away? Not possible I think.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

A three question survey.

Today's survey is brought to you courtesy of a conversation with a friend, and my neighbours.

I was on the phone with a girlfriend the other day and she said she doesn't know how to change a tyre.

My neighbourhood is a cacophony of bus horns from 06:00 until 07:00 and again all afternoon from 12:45 until 16:00. How hard is it to be ready when the bus picks up / drops off your children? Also, last night at 23:30 there was some sort of drunken brawl between two groups of my neighbours. I am sort of getting fed up with this neighbourhood.

Whiteout further adieu; Three burning questions. I've turned off word verification, and you all can respond anonymously if you wish.

1) Do you know how to change a tyre, Jump start a car, and check all the fluids for your car? Does your spouse?

2) Is it appropriate to instruct your child's' bus driver to sit outside your house and honk until the your child appears in the morning and until the maid appears to escort the kid inside in the afternoon? Would requesting a missed call not achieve the same result?

And for a bonus point,

3) Having politely broached the subject twice, is it now appropriate for me to lob projectiles onto the bus, family, maid and child until they get the message? What sort of projectiles would you recommend? Or should I perhaps stand outside their bedroom window with an air horn randomly honking them and waking them up twice in every 24 hours?

I am seriously asking.